Thursday, February 18, 2010

Done Deal...Howie's

It's official, and it's no surprise: Deal Or No Deal will end in September.

I like Deal Or No Deal. I always have. I like it, but I certainly don't think it's the greatest game show ever made. I watched on the night it premiered, and I wrote a review, which I no longer have but recall saying that in an ideal situation, this show "would settle down in an inconspicuous afternoon slot for eternity" and that the show would flop because, six years after Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? "a million dollars for opening a suitcase isn't going to cut it."

In hindsight, of course, I was more right than wrong - but hindsight is easy, and at the time, I was more than a little surprised to see this show become a primetime hit. Let me clarify what I said above, though - I like Deal Or No Deal and always have...when it's played without any gimmicks.

Deal Or No Deal wasn't the first primetime hit to collapse into gimmicks - look at Millionaire or The Weakest Link - but it certainly did so spectacularly. There were gimmicks done that I have never heard of before and certainly hope to never hear of again - A Star Wars show where the banker is Darth Vader! A show where, if the contestants don't win more than a certain amount, the host has to jump into a giant cake! A show where identical twins play together and both get to pick a case! The Million Dollar Mission, which allowed for as many as thirteen $1,000,000 cases...if all the remaining cases have the same amount, what is the banker supposed to do? Does the game end right there?

Eventually of course, and like Millionaire and The Weakest Link before it, the primetime version burned itself out...but it didn't matter because by that point we all knew that, like Millionaire and The Weakest Link before it, the show would end up in daytime syndication. Initial reports of a new host ended up not happening, and the producers surprised us by, while not keeping the $1,000,000 jackpot five days a week, managing to make $500,000 (we were expecting $250,000). As I said, I already thought that this was a better daytime show than anything else, and was pretty excited about this revelation. I assumed it would be similar to the British version (which is amazing, and still chugging along, if only because it was a daytime show to begin with). Upon actually seeing it, I found that it certainly wasn't the British version - it was essentially the American primetime version without the models, and maybe a little faster paced. It also should be noted that, while the British version has all twenty-two of the contestants at the start of each show stay on until they get picked to play, the American show had a new set of twenty-two contestants every what happens to the seventeen who aren't picked? They're just sent home in disgrace?

The daytime version managed for two years, managing to cut costs eventually by moving production to Connecticut (it looked exactly the same to me)...but ultimately it couldn't last, and perhaps after all those gimmicks, I should be happy we got as much Deal Or No Deal as we got. There will no doubt be a revival of this show eventually, and I for one think this show could be a ten-year success. Perhaps we need to avoid gimmicks; perhaps it should be a daytime show from the beginning, but there must be a way to do Deal Or No Deal right, even if the current producers didn't find it.

One final note: the show did have a few $1,000,000 winners, but they all had more than one $1,000,000 case. Nobody ever managed to win the jackpot ($1,000,000 in primetime, $500,000 in daytime) in regular play. Oh well.

See you next week,


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